Review: Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

Introduction
ANA First Class Chicago to Tokyo Narita
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo Narita
Thai Airways First Class Tokyo Narita to Bangkok
Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge Bangkok
Singapore Airlines Business Class Bangkok to Singapore
W Sentosa Cove Singapore
Hilton Singapore
Singapore Airlines The Private Room
Singapore Airlines First Class Singapore to Seoul Incheon
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge Seoul Incheon
Singapore Airlines First Class Seoul Incheon to San Francisco


I’ve had a ton of one night layovers in Bangkok, and in the past have always gone into the city for them. While the city can take a while to get to with traffic, it’s usually worth it given how reasonably priced luxury hotels are in Bangkok, and how much there is to do in Bangkok when jetlagged (aka at 3AM). In the past I’ve reviewed hotels like the Le Meridien, InterContinental, and St. Regis.

This time around I only had a layover of 11 hours, though, and decided it was time to visit the Novotel Bangkok Airport, which I’ve always wanted to try.

I landed from Tokyo Narita at 10:40PM and by 11PM was landside. The Novotel actually has a desk in the airport, and I asked the guy working it what the fastest way to get to the hotel would be. He said “follow me,” and I assumed he’d walk me outside and point me into the right direction, but instead he put me in the airport shuttle and closed the door. I was a bit frustrated he didn’t even give me the option of whether to take the shuttle or walk, given that it’s literally a five minute walk from the terminal. I could see the entrance from the bus I was sitting in!

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Arrivals hall

I sat in the shuttle for about 10 minutes at which point I was driven to the hotel. The shuttle took a ridiculously circuitous route, and even though the hotel is only a few hundred meters from the terminal, we must have driven a few kilometers to get there due to the road design around the airport.

Upon arrival at the hotel I headed to check-in. The hotel features a fairly nice atrium that kind of reminds me of the Hilton London Heathrow T4, and it was nicely lit up at night.

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Novotel lobby

Unfortunately there was a substantial check-in queue and there were only two associates working (despite six associates being behind the desk), so I had to wait for over 20 minutes. Interestingly the sign in the queue said it was the “Priority Desk,” though best I could tell everyone was using it, which sucks.

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Priority desk?!

I had booked a rate of about $150USD, which was on the high side. I’m an idiot for waiting too long, because when I first looked at rates they had advance purchase rates of about $100USD per night, though I missed out on those.

I’m used to friendly service in Thailand, though the associate working the desk was rude at worst and indifferent at best.

She didn’t say a word to me for several minutes, and then asked if it was okay if I got a room with two queen beds instead of a king bed. It’s ironic because as I discussed in this post, I just saw an advertisement on the Thai Airways flight emphasizing how at Accor you can know exactly what to expect in terms of the type of room you get.

I expressed my preference for a king bed, and after making a couple of phone calls she said “fine, I have a room with a king bed for you.” Gee, thanks.

My room was on the 5th floor at the end of the hallway, room 2545. It’s worth noting that while the hotel is only a few years old, the hallways are starting to show their age, as they have a ton of scratch marks. Nothing horrible, but not something you’d really expect from a Novotel either.

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5th floor hallway

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Room entrance

The room requires you place the key in the slot in order to activate the electricity, so the air conditioning hadn’t been on. It must have been a 100 degrees in the room.

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Hallway

The room was fairly basic with a king size bed, a desk with a chair, and another chair in the corner by the window.

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King bed

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Desk and TV

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Desk

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Side table and chair

The TV in the room was playing a rather eclectic mix which could be best described as contemporary porn music (contemporary jazz meets porn music).

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Room 2545

The bathroom was probably the nicest part of the room, and featured a soaking tub, walk-in shower, toilet, and a sink. The toiletries were Novotel branded, and to the hotel’s credit they did have a good selection of non-standard toiletries, like toothpaste, shaving cream, etc.

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Soaking tub

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Shower

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Toiletries

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Bathroom

I was also impressed that there were six bottles of complimentary water in the room, which sure is useful after being dehydrated after a longhaul flight.

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Bottled water

I wanted to use wifi during my stay, and not only do they charge for it (roughly $10USD for 12 hours), but you have to call the operator and have them generate a code for you, rather than just being able to accept the charges directly on your computer. That’s not so horrible, other than the fact that I had to call three times before the operator picked up.

The highlight of the room had to be the in room directory, which contained this gem:

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Of course that’s the extension!

I spent most of my layover working on my laptop and eventually got about 90 minutes of sleep, before getting up at 6AM.

The room faced away from the airport terminal, so just had views of the roadways leading up to the airport and the runway to the far left.

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View from room

I obviously didn’t have a chance to use the hotel’s other facilities, but the hotel did have a nice pool and fitness center.

The pool was outdoors and a beautiful area for an airport hotel.

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Pathway to pool

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Outdoor pool

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Outdoor pool

The gym was huge and boasted modern equipment.

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Gym

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Gym

Lastly, there’s a spa on the same level as the pool and gym, and based on looking at the menu, it was ~$60USD for an hour long Thai massage.

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Spa entrance

I checked out of the hotel at roughly 7:30AM, and again there was quite a queue at check-out. The associate that assisted me didn’t say a word to me yet again and then presented me with a folio. I pointed out that the room rate he was charging me was wrong, and without saying anything he took the sheet back and after a minute said “oh, that’s the wrong rate,” and corrected it. Seriously, are you friggin’ kidding me? Not even a “sorry?”

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Novotel lobby

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Novotel lobby

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Novotel lobby 

I decided to walk back to the airport, which is connected to the hotel via a super convenient (and borderline creepy) underground, air conditioned walkway, and it took only five minutes to walk to the terminal.

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Pathway to terminal

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Escalator to tunnel

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Underground walkway

On the whole the Novotel is extremely convenient for a quick overnight, physically rather nice for an airport hotel, and has the most indifferent service I’ve ever experienced from customer facing employees in Thailand. I suppose for a quick overnight they’re kind of like the Internal Revenue Service. I don’t want to use their services, but I don’t have much choice… or maybe there are other hotels near the airport I should consider instead?

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Comments

  1. Rude behavior and indifferent service from the hotel staff?

    What did you expect from a French owned hotel chain? 😉

  2. I had the exact same experience in June.

    Great location, rough service.

    One thing you started to mention – with the halls – which I found in the room as well is it’s starting to show wear. The furniture was scratched, the closet doors were banged up.

    Oh, and it’s super handy that you get 24 hours in the room from the time of check-in. Excellent idea that more chains should think about.

  3. I stayed here with my family about 4 years ago – snaqgged a room when Accor had a huge super-sale, so it was quite affordable. I remember the lobby being beautiful (all the water and plants) and the service being indifferent at best – but the rooms were clean and reasonably sized. It was great to be so close to the airport, and we were well rested for our next flight. I’d stay here again for a night if transferring – why not?

  4. The airport has been open (more or less) for about 7 years now. I think the Novotel opened about the same time. I wonder how frequently most hotels renovate these days.

    Maybe since they are presumed to be the only game in town for a quick layover stay they have that attitude. There are several other hotels within a few minutes of the airport that are not too expensive. But I think most people just choose the Novotel because it’s connected to the airport. All of those worn out guests who are only staying for a short time probably put a fair bit of wear and tear on the place.

    No excuse for the bad service. But maybe it’s an Accor thing. I stated at the Mercure in Koblenz last month and had very indifferent service there as well. (Although to be fair the Mercure Trier had very good service)

  5. Have you ever stayed at the Best Western Premier Amaranth Suvarnabhumi Airport? It’s near the airport, has a free shuttle, nice rooms, free wifi, and even a free plate of fruit in the room. It’s where I stayed on my last overnight layover in Bangkok and will probably head back there the next time I have a similar layover.

  6. I paid $180 back in 2007 for a few overnight hours. While pleasant enough I opted for the terminal on my next overnight in Bangkok.

  7. Louis’ Tavern in the terminal airside is a good option for a short layover, say late night arrival, morning departure. They have rooms, internet, breakfast, no need to clear immigration/customs. For this option, must check bags to next destination.

    Le Meridien is building a property near the airport that is scheduled to open next summer.

  8. I second… The Best Western Premier Amaranth Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel. Stayed there twice and booked with Agoda for a rate of $80USD which included breakfast.

  9. @ Ryan @ iv — Haven’t done the Best Western, so sounds like I should try that next time. Or for that matter just have a layover long enough to the point that it makes sense to go into the city.

  10. @ David — I am, and haven’t found there to be any meaningful benefits. For example, upgrades are only available upon request at Sofitel and Pullman properties, but even there they rarely happen. At other properties it just seems to translate into extra points.

  11. I’ve never considered a hotel for under a 12 hour layover since you can get showers at the airport clubs. Are the lounges that bad there or is it more of wanting to try a different hotel?

  12. Is there something you are leaving out that could account for the bad service? Maybe the front desk was acting that way upon check in because you showed up with your ladyboy “friend” despite the reservation being for one person? Maybe that’s why the bill was higher than you expected when you checked out because they added the charge for your friend?

  13. @Dave – I think the Thais are a fairly tolerant people, and I doubt there is any difference in room rate if there are 2 guests rather than 1. I stayed in this hotel in 2010 and found it to be exactly as Lucky has described. It’s very much like the airport it serves, which for the most part is underwhelming.

  14. Stayed here about a month ago for one night and we were quite surprised at how nice our stay was. We did see the sign at the airport and they had our name at the desk and we had a lot of bags. They took them all to the shuttle and it left immediately. I had signed up for Accor Platinum so I think the wi-fi was free and we had a sale rate of about $120. My wife loved the art gallery in the hotel lobby also. If anything, I was surprised at the indifferent service in the Thai First Class lounge later. 6 employees standing around the bar talking to one another while we tried to flag them down for a drink.

  15. A very good place about 10 minutes drive from the airport is a lovely family hotel called Maria Boutique Hotel. Price $45 Aus per night. Transport is free to and from airport. It does not have any facilities e.g. swimmin pool etc but for 6 hours lay over it is good value. Free soft drinks and snacks available and service is friendly.

  16. Help needed please – I am due to be travelling on my own with two grumpy Teenagers, and have an 18 hour transit at Bangkok – I am looking for Hotels that do not require immigration/customs clearance – Is Hotel or the Best Western Premier one of them?
    Thanks

  17. AVOID THIS HOTEL AT ALL COSTS! Staff NOT helpful, very rude, And their booking company, Booking.com are a gang of incompetent morons who screw up the reservations. Much better to take short taxi to any of hotels near airport. Novetel charges 300%++ above other hotels.

  18. I last stayed in this hotel in 2012. My late partner and I used Bangkok as our hub on a three week holiday for our visits to Myanmar, Penang and Saigon/ HCMC, then we finally and happily stayed as usual at Bangkok’s Royal Orchid Sheraton (we went there primarily for the poolside peacocks!).

    The service was the worst I have ever experienced in Thailand but about on par for the Accor group. The only thing to recommend itself is the hotel’s poolside.

    Those three stays added up to being the penultimate nail in the coffin of my membership of their loyalty programme. I only have had one friendly and positive experience and that was at the dreadfully noisy Ibis in Birmingham (UK).

    I dislike making negative comments but of all hotel groups Accor is consistently the worst I’ve experienced and their premium product always falls short. As I pay out of my own pocket I would rather party with good money for a Hyatt or Sheraton, for instance. The quality has always been much better toward me as a loyal customer.

  19. One of our bikes stayed on novotel area after we left the hotel and now we have a hard time getting it back. They want to see all kinds of documents and price go up each day. Offered a deal but they refused. Send a girl friend with the key and contract . She came home without the bike .

  20. One of our bikes remained after 2 day stay.
    found on novotel ground
    girl friend go with the key for a ride home. About the bike. Photos for that design contest at some point. Get the means to tow the bike. Then you go take off the red plate . There is a plan for repa Mod it like crazy. You get to mod a scrambler Ducati. Toss it on the tow mobile. Give some for attention . Go eat lunch

  21. Hey lucky will You please delete the previous or both. I had to change the lyrics . I don’t wanna pass novotel policy on to any one. Kind regards. Andersabi

  22. I stayed at this hotel last night and can honestly say it has only gone downhill from when this review was originally published. Carpets are dirty and worn and in some areas have been patched (poorly). The smell of mold on the 3rd floor was so bad I had to move to a room on the 5th which was much that much better.

    While the bed was satisfactory the furniture is old and beat-up. It’s one for a top to bottom rehab of the entire hotel. The sooner the better. Until then I’ll make the trip into town where there are far better hotels at far better prices.

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